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Layered T shirt Rehab

Learn how to turn an old t-shirt new again with this awesome tutorial for layered t-shirt rehab. Using a technique similar to reverse applique, Jennifer Juniper teaches us how to update our closet with a layered look.

T-shirt Rehab


  • 2 T-shirts
  • Paper
  • Chalk
  • Scissors
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Sewing Machine (optional)

Crafter's Note: I have a problem… All my shirts grow holes near the bottom, in the tummy area. I’ve come up with many ideas as to why this happens (leaning against the counter to wash dishes might be the culprit). What in the world do you do with these shirts with all the tiny holes? Cut out the offending parts and layer it!


  1. Begin with two t-shirts, I chose the outer shirt one size larger.
    T-shirt Rehab Image2
  2. Free-hand a leafy sort of design (or hearts, or stars, or smiley faces...) on a sheet of computer paper. Cut out the design like this:
    T-shirt Rehab Image3
  3. Lay your stencil onto the outer t-shirt and rub the chalk over the open spaces - Yes, I stole this sidewalk chalk from my poor children.
    T-shirt Rehab Image4T-shirt Rehab Image5
  4. Cut out the design with your scissors (*tip: it's easier to do this by cutting a snip out of the center of the leaf first, then work your way out to the edges.)
    T-shirt Rehab Image6
  5. My friend from , thought of this, and is so amazingly brilliant! Using a q-tip, dab bleach along the edges of the cut out leaves. (Line the shirt with a newspaper to protect the back first)
    T-shirt Rehab Image7
  6. You end up with these aged-looking edges that make my heart sing! (La, la, la!) Now, quit singing and rinse her off and dry her a bit before moving on to the next step.
    T-shirt Rehab Image8
  7. Layer the two shirts together and sew the leaves around the edges. You can sew this by hand with embroidery thread, or use the machine instead. Some contrasting hot pink thread with the gray and orange was just the ticket!
    T-shirt Rehab Image9
  8. Now, stand around a take pictures of yourself in your cute new Layered T! Imagine the color combos! The designs! The possibilities!
    T-shirt Rehab Image10T-shirt Rehab Image11


Read more about Jennifer, author of this craft tutorial, a Featured Craft Designer at FaveCrafts!



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when you layer the shirts and sew the leaves are you sewing the two shirts together?

Can't wait to try this out!!! LOVE IT!

This is a great idea, even for t-shirts that are new. I envision using fabric scraps or cut up, contrasting colored t-shirts to layer under the cutouts and not having to wear two shirts ( I live in a warm climate).

That is too interesting and I must try it!! Thank you for this!

I signed up just to save this project i can't wait to try this on all of my bleached tshirts. Your insturctions are great and funny too thanks

I can't wait to try this! looks really cool, it almost reminds me of Gap's style clothes, hip and cool! thank you.

I sewed it at the leaves only and haven't had any issues though it has been washed.

wow i have been wanting help with bleached spots in places you wouldn't put a patch over to hide it like in the middle of your bossom front and center. this will do the trick nicely especially on my expensive and favorite oprah t shirt i got for xmas. ppeek

Great Inspiration. Good for extending the life of Kids clothes. I can cut apart the shirt going under to add long sleeves and design to my son's shirts. The layered look is all the rage with elementary school kids.

this looks like so much fun...

I wanna try this one. Looks like fun.

Great idea ,and I have a bunch of shirts that I can use. I would like to add my 2cents worth on the bleach technique slightly diluted bleach will also work and is a little better for the fabric. Also, I recently read that you should add non chlorine oxygen bleach to the rinse water to neutralize the chlorine. I have also used vinegar in the water with pretty good results I did a shirt many years ago and it still looks good and has no yellow spots from residual chlorine and the fabric fibers have not rotted or weakened on the bleach areas. If you like to 'finger paint' ,use softscrub cleanser or regular powdered cleanser on a wet area and wear rubber or plastic gloves to smear it all around till you start to see whitened areasthen rinse and enjoy your 'distressed' effect . Don't you just love doing 'designer' effects at home for next to no $$$ !!!!

Love this idea! Young and hip but also artsey! Wow!

What a brilliant idea !!

I like this idea and I'm going to try it out. I'm always getting holes in shirts or stains, so now I can use that to make a fashionable article. thank you

Great Idea! I've been wanting a new way to salvage stained t-shirts besides trying to stencil over the stain... Thanks.

To make the sewing easier on the machine, I will sew the design before cutting away the top layer tee. I don't use the bleach then, but have embellished with fabric paint.

In step 7 are you sewing the 2 shirts together at the leaves only? If so do you need to tac it anywhere else

love all things recycled. what a great new makeover for an old T! Kat at


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